Massimo Luciani

Linguamyrmex vladi (Image courtesy Phillip Barden et al.)

An article published in the journal “Systematic Entomology” describes a research on an ant that lived about 98 million years ago and was preserved in amber. Called Linguamyrmex vladi, it was studied using modern technologies by a team of researchers led by Dr Phillip Barden. It turned out that it was a species with morphological characteristics that indicate a highly specialized predator behavior. It was part of an extinct group nicknamed “hell ants” and fed off its prey’s blood.

3D reconstruction of fossil burrows (Image courtesy Luke Parry - University of Bristol)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the study of traces left by organisms that lived over half a billion years ago that could be important to understand how animals evolved. A team of researchers discovered fossil traces of tracks and burrows left by some of the first organisms capable of active movements. Those creatures were very small, with a thickness comparable to that of a hair that could range from 40 to 300 micrometres, but among them there could be the ancestors of most animals.

Artist's impression of a 'flip flop' qubit in an entangled quantum state (Image courtesy Tony Melov)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the development of a new type of quantum computer that, according to the authors, resolves many problems with this type of computer. A team of engineers at the University of New South Wales, Australia, invented a new architecture based on flip-flop qubits that is supposed to make the production of large-scale quantum chips much simpler and cheaper.

Quest of the Three Worlds by Cordwainer Smith (Italian edition)

The novel “Quest of the Three Worlds” by Cordwainer Smith was published for the first time in 1966. It’s the made up of four stories published in previous years.

Cashel O’Neill is looking for ways to overthrow the dictatorship on his planet, but the road to freedom is so long that it takes him to other planets. In fact, Instrumentality of Mankind didn’t act against the usurper Colonel Wedder but granted Casher O’Neill an all-world travel pass.

To achieve his goal, Caswell O’Neill needs resources and looks for them on various planets, but his travels lead him to situations that are different from what he imagined. In particular, his meetings with various underpeople and even with some unmodified animals make him find far more than he was looking for.

The news came that yesterday the writer Jerry Pournelle died in his sleep at his home in Studio City, California.

His military experience, both at the front and in weapon development projects, also accompanied Jerry Pournelle’s career as a writer. Today, military science fiction has become an acknowledged subgenre that has its importance and its fans but in the past it had little consideration and Jerry Pournelle’s works were crucial to its development.

Jerry Pournelle was a complex person with a life spent working in many different fields so it’s a case where every label would be trivial and would only describe a small part of him. It’s thanks to all the experiences he accumulated that in his stories he created complex situations in which the characters ended up finding solutions to problems that were far from politically correct.